From Doha to Dubai: The Supercars Club Arabia Delmonya rally ends in style.
It's been over 20 years since the Gulf experienced five days of unrelenting rainfall. But when we awoke on The Pearl, a man-made island in Doha, the sun was finally doffing his cap, the colorful array of supercars glistening below our balcony in front of the Kempinski hotel. A cool breeze and clear blue skies was the ideal conditions for what was to be the longest leg of the Supercars Club Arabia's ultra-exclusive 1,400-km Bahrain to Dubai Delmonya rally we had the privilege of joining.
700 km to be exact: from Doha to the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort in UAE.As Aventador owners believe their actions have no consequences, enabling them to Instagram themselves at 180 mph down unlit, rainy stretches of highway, I made the executive decision to return to the relative calm of the Ferrari 458 Spider for the next couple of days. The 130-km sprint to the Saudi border took some of the guys just 25 minutes to reach. Claims of hitting over 210 mph along the highway could not be verified, but having spent the best part of a week in the company of these esteemed gentleman, this wasn't necessary. These guys don't muck about. There's a 3-km stretch of road linking the Qatari and Saudi borders, punctuated with massive speed bumps.
This is a problem for a DMC Aventador, Porsche 911 GT2 and other brutally low supercars. Which is why Zakariya Al-Abdulqa (the man that can get things done in Saudi) arranged for these to be removed for us. To be precise, half of each concrete bump on the Saudi-Qatar side of the road was torn out. So when heading back to Saudi, our 30-supecar convoy drove against the traffic, complete with police escort and astounded onlookers. Another ball-aching border control through Saudi followed and by the time we were hitting 180 mph on empty desert highway the sun had begun to appear in our rear view as we pushed it hard into the Eastern Quarter.
"Extra Fast. Extra Safe." A serious, well-intentioned, instruction spluttered from the walkie-talkie left us in hysterics and became our mantra for the remainder of the rally. "Guys, please, we are late: We need to drive really fast. Really safe. Let's go." 30 minutes and 120 km later and it was time for a late lunch of BK Whoppers before leaving Saudi for the final time. Ali, aka @dieselmcore, was our point man in the UAE who ensured that as soon as we crossed the border, were greeted by a helicopter and a couple of police escorts. "Why the chopper?" I inquired. "Because I can." Nuff said. 400 kilometers separated us from the splendor that is Qasr Al Sarab, a desert resort surrounded by rolling sand dunes that stretch far into the horizon.
We would have to wait until the morning to appreciate the magnificent environs, however. By the time we arrived, red-eyed and ready for a back rub after traversing mile upon mile of rolling and twisting desert roads, it was pitch black. Zero light pollution made for a stunning sky carpeted with stars, the air as pure to breathe as anywhere on earth immediately lifting the spirits. We dumped our bags in the resort's beautifully appointed rooms overlooking a breathtaking view of our oasis in the desert, showered, and headed for the ballroom where a hearty meal awaited. Cherry flavored Shisha and several single malts in the company of some fascinating individuals capped off what was another spectacular day.
We were on the road around midday, after a morning spent photographing the cars backdropped to an otherworldly landscape. With helicopter and police escort in tow, we fueled up and began the 200-km drive up to The Yas Viceroy Hotel that sits slap bang in the middle of the Yas Marina Circuit, home to the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix. Pushing 180 mph flanked by vast barren desert, it wasn't long before the traffic of the UAE's capital city kept us honest and we were soon blasting through the Yas Tunnel, the polished hotel just a stone's throw away. From 8 pm to midnight the track was our playground, so there was ample time to check in, check out the track from the balcony, refuel on coffee and shisha, and make the 5-minute drive to the track.
Obligatory parade laps are hilarious fun. Selfies in a drop-top Ferrari surrounded by millions of dollars of sheetmetal while cruising around one of the best tracks in the world. Life doesn't get better. That's what I thought until Qais, the owner of the LaFerrari – the jewel in the SCA's crown – invited me to ride with him to Dubai the following morning. He had brought the LaFerrari down to the desert the previous day on a trailer towed by a purple and carbon Brabus 4x4 squared. This man has some seriously good taste. Yas Marina is a tight, challenging circuit, and despite a couple of minor knocks, no serious damage was done to any of the cars.
I joined the doc, in his 911 GT2, for a few hot laps close to midnight on an almost deserted track, 530-hp of visceral forced-induction sent to the rear wheels via the six-speed manual. Poised, planted and potent, the Porsche was a dream on the track with its lenient stability and traction controls ensuring we stayed on the tarmac despite the tight corners best efforts to chuck us off. A night on the town (details of which I will take to my grave) was the ideal tonic to the adrenaline pumping through our veins, and after a couple of hours of shuteye, the final day of the rally was upon us: It was time to lead the supercar pack to Dubai in a LaFerrari.
Being driven in a LaFerrari by the Prince of Oman (Qais is second in line to the thrown) escorted by Dubai's police force driving a McLaren 570S, Mercedes SLS AMG and Audi R8, was not how I envisaged entering Dubai for the first time. But that's exactly how it went down. No speeding on this stretch of road was permitted, and the now 40-car convoy cruised into town in consummate style pulling up to The Palace in downtown Dubai, with the 830-meter high Burj Khalifa dominating the skyline. Five days on the road, spanning four countries and almost 1,000 miles of road, had come to an end.
This unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime adventure, experienced with an amazing bunch of people, provided me with memories I will cherish forever and stories I will never tire of telling. The Supercars Club Arabia is filled with truly warmhearted people, passionate about cars and living life to the max. The west coast of America is its next destination, and you're more than welcome to join. Fist pump to Mohammed aka @MZ-Pic for helping with the pics and a massive thank you to Auf Al Delaimi for inviting CarBuzz on the tour and for being such a class act throughout endless challenging situations.